Mel Birnkrant's
Mel Birnkrant's
All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
Continue to PART TWO                   Return to MelBirnkrant.com
 
 
PART 1: THE PRESENTATION
         Several years ago, my friend, Cyndy Stevens made a webpage about CODs.  It's buried deep in the hardest to find pages of this website.  So, why would I do another?  Well, the fact that it is well hidden is one reason, but more than that, I am undertaking this because Cyndy’s early website only told part of the story.  I  recently discovered a treasure trove of early drawings that show where CODs were going in year two, and what their future might have been if they had not been murdered in midstream. 

         
Unfortunately, the photographs that I took at the time, although, they filled a computer screen back then, are small by today’s high definition standards.  Therefore, I've enlarged them, so they will have more impact here.  Meanwhile, I discovered the two original pencil drawings that generated the Minolta copier prints that came with the initial presentation.  These are far more sensitive, in spite of their imperfections.  Only two drawings were required to tell the entire story.
          The concept and the name Special Deliveries were a perfect combination.  The name was keyed into “deliveries,” as in delivering a baby, and it also alluded to a postal theme, with the fabled Stork, himself, as the Postmaster General.  And all the babies accessories would play upon that postal theme.
        This concept can be dated accurately, thanks to this video, which was shot a few months before it was aired by ABC TV, early on Christmas morning, in 1995.  It shows yours truly, sculpting the baby’s basic body in Plastilina.  I made this clay model to get the size and shape just right, before attempting to replicate it in fabric.
         The head is also Plastilina, painted white.  I cast this painted head in plaster to make a mold, from which I could press out a basic head in Super Sculpey.  The Plastilina head was purposely made oversized, as it was destined to shrink, when later cast in latex.
          Then I created four Super Sculpey heads, each with a different expression.  My experience with Baby Face made sculpting expressions second nature to me.  I cast these heads in latex, then, covered them in flesh colored flock.  Obtaining the correct color wasn’t easy.  Flesh colored flock was not something one could purchase in a crafts store at the time.  I managed to convince a flock manufacturer to make some samples for me.  They did so, gladly, hoping it would lead to a huge order in the future.  I hoped so too!

         
The flock turned out to be a perfect match for the cotton tricot fabric used to sew the bodies.  The concept was to make the head and body match perfectly, and thus, create the illusion that the entire doll was made of fabric.  I had incorporated this idea previously, and successfully, on a product called, “Doggie Bag Doggies.”  Now, I undertook the task, which was not an easy one for me, of fumbling my way through the laborious process of fabricating fabric bodies, on my wife’s sewing machine. 
          Only two complete bodies were required as the other two dolls would be shown in their packages, where they would only be visible from the waist up.  Here we see the final samples, two partial dolls to be installed in their packages, and one of the two complete dolls.  The head in the foreground demonstrates the difference that the flocking makes.  Without it, the heads looked quite ordinary to me.  In the background you can glimpse a preliminary package.
         In this instance, I considered the packages to be as important as the dolls themselves.  It was the package that would carry and convey the “Special Delivery” theme.  So I set about creating a Special Delivery package.  It was designed to resemble a mailing box, wrapped in plain brown paper with lots of official looking labels, and carefully tied with string.  A Special Delivery label would serve as the title, and an address label would proclaim that it came from the “Storkmaster General.  There was also a window, through which each Special Delivery could peek. 

         
Last of all there were special baby stamps, properly cancelled, and a Baby Express postmark.  in every way from the labels to the string the package radiated an illusion of authenticity. This would be the next best thing to having the Stork Himself drop one’s new baby, gently down the chimney.
          And, here is the final presentation.  The half dolls are permanently installed in their packages.  I dug up a few accessories, a bottle, and a comb.  And everything is as perfect as I could make it.  The babies had their scratch off names, and their Velcro diaper stamps, in pink and blue.  The name "Samantha Toots," by the way, is the combined names of my two daughters. 
          Only one element remained to be included, a video tape.  And so, I set out to create the one that you can see below.  I guess, in retrospect, one might say that I made this product presentation in my heyday.  This was just about the best that I could ever do.
          Now, with the presentation complete, what happened next?  Of all the people we had met in the toy industry, I believe my partners and I agreed that our favorites were the folks we met at Tyco.  And so, we unanimously decided that Tyco would be the first to see Special Deliveries.